In subjects such as history, it is often necessary to form a judgement on two separate but related issues. For example, “How successfully did Lenin rule Russia?” and “How Marxist was Lenin’s regime?” are connected, but subtly different (for example, his greatest practical successes in economic terms came when he departed from strictly Marxist principles).

To highlight these differences, and to get students thinking about each one more deeply, conclude the study by dividing the board with a horizontal and a vertical line to create four squares. The vertical line represents one issue (e.g. “Success / Failure”) and the horizontal the other (e.g. “Marxist / Not Marxist”).

Next, consider different dimensions of the topic that can be used to reach a judgement. In the example outlined above, these would be key policy areas: the Treaty of Brest Litovsk, the Civil War, The NEP, the handling of national minorities and so on. For each one, discuss where it belongs in the diagram and then write it into that spot.

Finally, ask each student to write their own name (in a different colour) to represent their overall judgement.


This photograph shows my IB class working on a final judgement about whether the October Russian Revolution was a coup d’etat or a popular uprising. To do this, we broke the question into two sub-issues: (a) were the Bolsheviks popular, or unpopular, by October 1917? (b) was the Provisional Government popular, or unpopular, in October 1917? It also highlights that the historians Pipes and Fitzpatrick are at opposite extremes of the debate:



The following photograph shows how the ‘Worst jobs in the Middle Ages’ could be categorised in a similar way: